Budding paleontologists won't want to miss this artifact-packed museum. Even if dinosaurs aren't your forte, with over 30 million objects in 45 exhibition halls across five floors and four city blocks, the American Museum of History is well worth a visit (or two). Sifting through so many collections will take some time so be sure to plan ahead.
Since 1869, the American Museum of Natural History has been renowned for its exhibitions and scientific collections of the earth, the oceans and beyond. The exhaustive collection is an impressive sight and quite daunting, so it's worth grabbing a map to pinpoint the highlights and the location of your personal interests. A highlight of the museum is undoubtedly the dinosaurs which are spread out over three halls. Don't miss T-Rex, the Barosaurus protecting its young, or the fossilised imprint of the body of a duck-billed dinosaur. The Hall of Vertebrate Origins has the wow factor with giant marine reptiles suspended from the ceiling.
Other must-see exhibits include the seasonal Butterfly Conservatory where a rainforest vivarium is erected annually allowing visitors to walk among around 500 of these beautifully coloured and diverse creatures. Other popular sights can be found at the Earth and Planetary Sciences Halls where you can marvel at specimens of meteorites, minerals and gems. Don't miss the Rose Center for Earth and Space, a state-of-the-art planetarium which houses the Hayden Sphere and where you can see the awe-inspiring 'Journey to the Stars' show every half hour. Culture vultures will also adore the insight into ourselves and the evolution of man via the Human Origins and Cultural Halls.
If you are pressed for time, the three-hour Museum Highlights Tour condenses the collections' must-sees hourly from 10.15am to 3.15pm. Love 'Night at the Museum'? See the original exhibits from the movie during the two-hour namesake tour or have a sleepover for US$129 from 6 pm to 9 am. General admission tickets are US$19 for adults and US$10.50 for children aged two to 12 years. To visit, take subway lines B or C to 81st Street – Museum of Natural History which stops right outside the museum.